Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wellness Wednesday: Being With Each Flower, What is More Important?

Today I read something beautiful on Kelly's blog that caused me to think, to really reevaluate and reframe something in my life. Kelly wrote that she was grateful for:

“Being wrapped all day in the kind of energy that made people open to me like flowers in the rain.” 

What a lovely thing to be, what a lovely gift to give people--this kind of energy that makes people feel comfortable enough to share themselves with you.

All of my life, I have struggled with this gift. It is a gift from God, nothing that I've cultivated or would even know how to develop. On the one hand I have enjoyed this closeness with others, delighted in it, reveled in it, when it has been with someone with whom I've wanted to be intimate. On the other hand, sometimes it is time-consuming or awkward or (to my embarrassment) even irritating when I am in a hurry and someone I barely know opens up to me and share deeply personal "stories of their lives", their deep feelings.

This gift is what led me to go to graduate school to become a counselor. I never finished, though, instead leaving school without doing a practicum and finishing my masters in another field, because I found it too draining to relate to people on that level all day long. I am very introverted, and although I care deeply for others, I need a great deal of time alone to process and recharge in order to be able to interact at that level. I also am not a particularly patient person, not a good thing for a counselor.

Lately over the last several years as I've experienced time as being scarce much of the time, it has been harder and harder to be welcoming when some people open up. People I meet casually, chance encounters that won't be repeated, people that I'd not choose to be intimate with. I usually still do listen and witness their story (trying to be "nice"), but find myself thinking thoughts like, "I can't believe this is happening to me again..." and "They're going to share their whole life story with me now right when I'm on my way to..." Complaining thoughts, I've realized. From the resentment I feel. This is not who I want to be.

In pondering Kelly's post, I've realized that deep down inside, I believe--I know--that every single person is indeed a flower, and that one of the most important things I can do each and every day is to witness their opening. To be present with everyone I meet. If they feel safe with me (and they are safe), then this is a bold, brave gift that I'm being given, and I want to recognize it as such. I need to slow down and stay in touch with what I truly value rather than be distracted by the urgency of comparatively petty tasks.

I always learn so much from Kelly, and this was a special lesson, one I really needed today.

~Photograph by LoveHubbie Mark


Kim Mailhot said...

Being there for others is wonderful and a huge part of my life but there does need to be limits, for our own wellbeing. Soem people haven't learned when to stop leaning and can pull you down under with them. Other times, our connections run so deep that it is difficult not to take on someone else's issues as our own. As Patti Digh suggests in 37 Days, we must remember to put on our own masks first !

(I love Kelly too ! She is so good at loving this life !)
Big Love to you, Beautiful Olivia !

patti said...

Kim is right, it's important to protect ourselves sometimes. And that doesn't mean we stop being people who care deeply about others.

It doesn't hurt to be reminded though, that there is always time to show compassion and Kelly sets such a good example, bless her soul :)

Olivia said...

Thank you ladies, for articulating what I really struggled to say. And for reminding me why I sometimes draw back. Sometimes it isn't selfishness and preoccupation but good self-care.

I know I keep writing about Kelly, but she is great, and we all love her here!

Thank you both for your support and encouragement,


Jane said...

What a beautiful post, Olivia. I too have always been in awe of those who seem to have a natural gift for attracting people to them. I'm learning as I get older though that I need to protect myself at times. I have the type of personality that enables me to easily talk with others. But sometimes, I have to retreat if only to recharge. I've learned a lot about energy over the years in such important ways. I used to want to be accepted by everyone but now I am much more selective as I know that some energy is just not meant for me. There is a fine art of keeping yourself open and knowing when you need to walk away.

Olivia said...

Yes, Jane, I do agree with you. I also need to replenish my energy as well, so I understand. I like what you said about it being a fine art--beautifully said! xoO

kikipotamus said...

I'm so glad my post touched you in this way. But every encounter I had did have its boundaries around it. My visit with my hospice person ended at five sharp, as planned. When I had to start lesson planning, I pulled away from the woman in the computer lab, saying I was really glad we'd had time to talk (but we're done now). Balance, eh?

Olivia said...

Yes, thank you for this, Kelly. I agree that balance has to be the key. I think I pass this as the pendulum swings from one side to the other, briefly :) I hope to settle into it on a more frequent basis. xoO